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October 28, 2013

ODU’s Model UN Society Marks United Nations Day Anniversary with Political Simulation

feature3-lgConference staff Michael Chatman, Sean McGuffin and Joe Espinoza address delegates at ODU’s U.N. Day program. Photo by David Hollingsworth
By Valerie Sprouse

Ninety Old Dominion students gathered in Webb Center on Friday, Oct. 18, to mark U.N. Day 2013 with an all-day political simulation. The event is the largest on-campus activity of the ODU Model UN Society, which represents the university at conferences across the country and hosts major events in Hampton Roads.

This year's event was organized by the society under the leadership of ODU sophomore Sean McGuffin. U.N. Day commemorates the creation of the United Nations 68 years ago, out of the ashes of World War II. In her welcoming remarks, ODU Provost Carol Simpson recalled, "My parents lived through the bombing of Britain in World War II and, like most people of their generation, they hoped the United Nations would ensure a terrible war like that one would never happen again."

Officially celebrated on Oct. 24 to mark the completion of the U.N. Charter, United Nations Day provides a window on one of the greatest transformations in world politics. Often overlooked in the daily crush of affairs, since 1945 the world has witnessed a historically unprecedented decline in all forms of armed violence, a process in which the U.N. plays an essential part.

In Webb Center, students struggled to work through the same problems the world's governments face routinely. After difficult debate to set an agenda, they voted to focus on the challenges of illicit human trafficking. The arduous process of navigating among so many sovereign countries was fully on display.

Even on a topic as seemingly noncontroversial - provoked by the drowning of some 350 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea two weeks before - delegates found key states hesitant to act boldly. With delegates representing 90 countries, five resolutions were proposed. Only one resolution passed; it requested that destination countries and U.N. agencies support economic development to reduce pressure for illegal migration.

Awards went to ODU undergraduates Hannah Berk, Best Delegate (Chile); Taje Mitchell, Outstanding Delegate (South Korea); and Gabriel Miller, Honorable Mention (Ukraine). For more information about the ODU Model UN Society, go to http://al.odu.edu/mun/.

feature3-lg01Delegates listen to debates at the U.N. Day program. Photos by David Hollingsworth
feature3-lg02Aaron Karp, faculty sponsor of the ODU Model United Nations Society and lecturer in political science, addresses the delegates. Karp was a consultant to the U.N. secretary-general for nuclear weapons and missiles. In the background is ODU Model UN President Kelsie Burkhard.